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Episode 13 - Married to a Monster

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Two years ago a note came in the mail with surprising and horrifying news about her husband. But despite all the darkness that's crept into her life she is shining with positivity.

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Jeeze, I don't know why Chris found this caller so graceful and inspiring. Human beings, even criminals, are NOT monsters. Hate speech like this is what tears families apart. My father and I had an intimate relationship when I was young and my step mom knew partly about it. When my birth mom found out she reacted the same like this caller. She called my dad a child molester and a monster and did everything she could to ensure that my dad got the longest prison sentence possible and never saw me again. Mom took on the role of hero victim, just like the caller. She told EVERYONE about my dad and me. People who play the hero victim are so encouraged and coddled by self righteous people in society. Defining me as a victim was way more abusive to me than any of the loving touches my dad and I shared. My dad served 5 years in prison and my step mom and I stood by him every step of the way. Love and support are what people in prison need, not calling them monsters. My dad is happily home with my step mom and I grew up to be happily married. People who equate sex offenders with serial killers need a reality check.

 

Chris you really need to check yourself. You were falling all over yourself to praise the caller's strength and grace the entire hour. You were not accurate when you told her all the listeners approve of her and agree with her approach. I certainly didn't.

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Oof. Becky, your post hurts to read a little. I can tell that that's a sentiment that will piss you off; I'm not here to get sanctimonius with you or tell you how to feel, but I ask that you hear me out.

 

This is my mother's story. It's very different from yours in a lot of ways, except in her reaction to it, which I painfully recognise in you.

 

My grandmother, like a lot of people in our family, was high functioning autistic. This was in the days before anyone, least of all a woman, would have received that diagnosis, but enough of her descendants now have been formally diagnosed that retrofitting that label onto her doesn't feel like an unreasonable thing to do.

 

This context is important, because my grandmother was not a bad woman, in the sense she never intended to do harm. But she was a person of firm and strange convictions about how the world should be, in a way she could not articulate to her partner or her children. This meant they were constantly infringing on rules which she took very seriously, and they didn't understand.

 

My mother was the oldest of three children. And until my grandmother died, I never had any sense that their childhood was in any way unhappy. My grandmother came over every christmas, bought me many of the books I loved and remain in my llibrary to this day, and taught me to speak decent anglo-saxon, which she was (now that I think about it) strangely passionate about. (I think in the modern context this would have racist connotations, but my grandmother was simply a massive beowulf fan.) And if she flew into odd rages sometimes, mum and her siblings just laughed it off. They all respected her, and defended her as an eccentric too intelligent for the rest of the world to understand. Her influence on them is clear and massive- they are all intellectuals with firm political beliefs and discomfort with emotional expression. My mum really does idolise her mother in a lot of ways- the mother is a powerful figure in anyone's imagination.

 

But in the years since my grandmother's death, as I've become closer to my mum in a more adult way, I've started to get a sense that my mum is struggling with her evaluation of her mother. Not the least because, as it turns out, she could be savagely violent with absolutely no warning whatsoever, and my mum had had to fight for her life on more than one occasion. They never knew what would set her off. Mum recounts in a strangely normal way how, when she was eight, my grandmother chased her to the bottom of the garden with a kitchen knife because she'd brought friends over- friends my grandmother knew very well, friends who came over all the time without incident. This violence only ended when my mum got big enough that the fights they had ended with her winning- my grandmother was 5'1'' and my mum hit 5'10'' at fourteen, fortunately.

 

My mum was genuinelly surprised I sounded shocked by that. But then a few weeks later she started saying things like, 'that wasn't really right, was it?'- like the idea hadn't occurred to her before. It was treated as such a matter of course in the family home, and has become such a joke between the siblings, that none of them have ever seriously confronted what was happening.

 

Our relationship with our parents defines our sense of normality. Violence can be normalised. Sexual violation can be normalised. The stories that would pain a listener the most are the ones that come out of our mouths the most casually, are the most integral to our ideas of ourselves. "Yeah, that happened- what's so weird about that?"

 

And we think that because we can reflect on these events without pain ourselves, that we haven't been damaged by it. But that's not how it works. That you can look on your abuse without pain may mean you are still not feeling the pain that warns you away from bad situations. Those who received violence as children often have no defence against it as adults.

 

I'm not saying you need to identify as a 'victim'. I actually think that's pretty unhealthy. But you might consider reflecting on what happened to you from a perspective other than that of the five year old child you were at the time. As an adult looking in on that scene, what would you have seen? What would you feel about it now? How would you feel if it were happening to your own children?

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Those are some seriously heavy posts which make me hesitant to say anything beyond the most basic, surface-level comment on the episode, but I thought it was phenomenal, and Chris's closing sentiment about the caller's son was really beautiful.

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Hi trampus thanks for your reply. I'm going to sit with your mom's story and think about how it might apply to my situation. But I'm not pissed off with you. I'm listening and thinking about what you said. I feel like you are an example of a grace filled person. The world is not full of black and white absolutes. Your grandma might have done some monstrous behaviors, but she wasn't a monster. Your grandma's family was correct to stand up against the abuse, but the fact that they still love her is a sign of strength, not weakness.

 

Thank you for allowing me to form my own opinions about what happened in my life. That kind of respect empowers me and gives me space to come to my own conclusions. I do think that my dad made a judgement error. I did get angry at him because his behavior caused a lot of trouble for me and my family. He should have known how rabidly people react to incest. I was forced to go through very heavy handed therapy. It felt like people were trying to brainwash me into accepting the one true interpretation of his behavior. I don't deny that I was abused, but the abuse didn't start until my dad went to prison. I was abused by therapists who hold an almost religious view that incest is always 100% victimization. They used to say it's ok if I liked it and it's okay that I love my dad, and then they'd insist that over time I would come to realize that he used and abused me. By the way, one of my therspists did proposition me sexually. I credit my dad for instilling me with the bravery to stand up to that abuser and tell on him. I understand that what the therapist did was wrong because I was under age and because he was in a position of authority over me which made me vunerable. I've been through years of therapy and the good therapists tell you that your feelings are valid, no matter if they are politically correct. We all have to conform our behavior to the law or face the consequences, but our feelings are our own and no one should try to tell us that our feelings are wrong.

 

One thing that stood out to me in the call was the fact that the dad never denied it when he was confronted. My dad was the same way - he never lied about it. And like that guy from the story, my dad was great with kids. He is empathetic, patient and kind. I have no fear that my dad would ever be sexual with my step children. We have talked about it and he agrees that he made a mistake. Personally I am not philosophically opposed to the idea of kids learning about sex from their parents or other loving adults. That's better than getting a warped concept of sex from watching porn. Not that I think porn is evil or anything, it's just not reality. But my feelings and opinions notwithstanding, I wouldn't allow someone to violate any laws with my children. There is just too much hate ready to spew forth. We all need to be aware of the danger of getting caught up in this country's moral panic.

 

I recognize that these are tough and volatile subjects and different people have different opinions. We are should all be free to think and feel however we want as long as we don't hurt other people. Sex is not as simple as people try to pretend. There are grey areas and things we don't usually talk about in public. People have a way of convincing themselves that what they are doing is ok, when sometimes it really isn't. When we make mistakes we should expect to be corrected, but it doesn't make us monsters.

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By the way, one of my therspists did proposition me sexually. I credit my dad for instilling me with the bravery to stand up to that abuser and tell on him. I understand that what the therapist did was wrong because I was under age and because he was in a position of authority over me which made me vunerable.

 

How is that different from what your father did or this woman's ex-husband did? I didn't imagine I would go on the Earwolf forums and see someone defend child molestation today...

 

This woman was married to a monster. No one, not even a person who at a young age experienced "loving touches", as you put it,can defend him in a meaningful way. You have the right to make whatever you want out of your situation, but it is a lot more black and white than you put it. Engaging in sexual relationships with children is wrong.

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I am not going to touch that first comment (yikes) but I have to say that out of all the episodes thus far this one took me the longest to get through because of that awful giggling. I understand that some people do have defense mechanisms like that, as she said, but it felt so gross to hear her talk about such horrible things and then act like she was shrugging it off with a laugh. It made my skin crawl, and it was difficult for me to empathize with her. Of course it is admirable that she is able to keep a positive outlook on life after going through that trauma, and, no, I don't think it would have been better had she been morose or crying the whole time, but the situation has a gravity that was missing. I just kept thinking about her poor stepdaughter and how it would make her feel that her stepmother cracks up (out of nervousness or not) at the thought of her father molesting her. It rubbed me the wrong way and made her come off as disingenuous. I'm not judging the woman herself or how she deals with it; I'm just saying it was difficult for me to listen to her story when presented in that way. Not because of the uncomfortable subject, but the tone.

 

That being said, even though I don't feel the same way as he does about this caller, I applaud Chris for his ever present enthusiasm and the way he jumps into every conversation with both feet and is not afraid to ask hard questions, or to admit when he has no idea wtf to say about some of it. I look forward  to the next ep.

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I understand why we have laws against sexual behaviors with children and as I said I think my dad made a mistake. No one is on here defending child molesting. I don't want to get explicit, but there is a big continuum between innocent fatherly hugs and vicious violent rape. To pretend that sex of any kind is black and white is willful ignorance. . Just because someone made a bad decision doesn't make them a monster.

 

I wouldn't say the caller is positive or brave at all. She sounds consumed with anger and vindictiveness. She spends every day spewing out her hate and insisting that everyone validate her opinions. She requires everyone in her presence to hear her story and respect her pain. That's exactly how my mom terrorized everyone in her life.

 

It's wrong to equate what the caller went through to the worst tragic events anyone has ever gone through. I can respect that she feels betrayed by her exhusband, but many many people experience betrayal in their marriage. What about all the other terrible events people face across the world. Terrorism, starvation, disease, Alzheimer's. The world is full of survivors of horrible abusive relationships. How can Chris raise her pain up to the point of worshipfulness when the ex husband she hates so much is probably in a living hell worse than she ever experienced? It's no secret how horrible life is for incarcerated sex offenders.

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Gosh, it was nice to hear this story. Years ago, an old boyfriend opened up to me after a five year relationship about his leaving the military. After years of lies, a fight on his utilization of the GI Bill brought the truth forward.

 

My boyfriend had been dishonorably discharged from the military for being a pedophile.

 

(If you're reading this, woman from the podcast, I understand trying to save the person. I understand how hurt you are, and how angry. That feeling of being unclean, I get it. You aren't alone.)

 

What I've found most awful about the experience was the lack of support for all parties. The woman on the podcast hit the nail on the head about the lack of support groups for those tangentially involved with pedophilia. It's hard to feel so disgusted with yourself, with them, with the justice system, and have to remain silent. I was afraid to research pedophilia on the internet, for fear that I would get flagged as a predator! It seems ridiculous, but it's true.

 

There are few, almost zero mental health professionals who specialize in sexual predation, and how could they? We view predilection towards the innocent as a crime rather than a psychiatric disorder. A pedophile is a potential child predator, there is no way around that. However, there aren't many avenues for potential predators to seek the mental help they need, as pedophile and child molester have become synonymous.

 

I wish that there was some way for the conversation to be more open, without the judgement and castigation foisted on the victim, the criminal, and the families. As our society grows more open to issues of mental health, I wonder if we could become more open to these experiences as well. Would it lower the instances of child molestation? Would it give release and comfort to those touched?

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I understand why we have laws against sexual behaviors with children and as I said I think my dad made a mistake. No one is on here defending child molesting. I don't want to get explicit, but there is a big continuum between innocent fatherly hugs and vicious violent rape. To pretend that sex of any kind is black and white is willful ignorance. . Just because someone made a bad decision doesn't make them a monster.

 

I wouldn't say the caller is positive or brave at all. She sounds consumed with anger and vindictiveness. She spends every day spewing out her hate and insisting that everyone validate her opinions. She requires everyone in her presence to hear her story and respect her pain. That's exactly how my mom terrorized everyone in her life.

 

It's wrong to equate what the caller went through to the worst tragic events anyone has ever gone through. I can respect that she feels betrayed by her exhusband, but many many people experience betrayal in their marriage. What about all the other terrible events people face across the world. Terrorism, starvation, disease, Alzheimer's. The world is full of survivors of horrible abusive relationships. How can Chris raise her pain up to the point of worshipfulness when the ex husband she hates so much is probably in a living hell worse than she ever experienced? It's no secret how horrible life is for incarcerated sex offenders.

Funny that you seem to know so much about this caller and are so hateful towards her. It may take awhile for it to register with you, but you were sexually abused by your own father. I won't use the word monster, but to use the word "mistake" or "judgment error" as you did is drastically underplaying your father's disgusting, manipulative, selfish actions. There's no sugarcoating it, your father abused you whether you choose to fully acknowledge that. A grope, kiss, rape, it really doesn't matter when you're talking about a parent and child. There's a line there that only sick people cross. Don't take your pent up pain and take it out on this caller. She has the right to her reaction, as you do yours. Hopefully you one day realize your mother is trying to protect you and others from a child molester, just as this caller is.

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On another note, between this and the Alcoholics Anonymous episode, it seems some people are expecting Chris to be an expert on all the issues presented to him and that he abide by certain ethics and tiptoe around potential triggers. That is not what this is. This is a candid, unprepared conversation between a comedian and an anonymous caller. Chris does not need to "check himself" or hide his gut reactions. If you don't like it, don't listen.

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On another note, between this and the Alcoholics Anonymous episode, it seems some people are expecting Chris to be an expert on all the issues presented to him and that he abide by certain ethics and tiptoe around potential triggers. That is not what this is. This is a candid, unprepared conversation between a comedian and an anonymous caller. Chris does not need to "check himself" or hide his gut reactions. If you don't like it, don't listen.

 

I totally agree...I was a little bummed to hear him check himself a few times this episode. It seems like the critics are under his skin a bit. I think maybe a quick disclaimer for the caller or even on the podcast would take care of any legal worries, but I would hope most people get it. I'd like to hear Chris speaking his mind without worrying about what sensitive posters might say. That being said, I'm sure it's easier said than done when you are on the phone when someone is unloading something that heavy. Either way, love the show.

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I understand why we have laws against sexual behaviors with children and as I said I think my dad made a mistake. No one is on here defending child molesting. I don't want to get explicit, but there is a big continuum between innocent fatherly hugs and vicious violent rape. To pretend that sex of any kind is black and white is willful ignorance. . Just because someone made a bad decision doesn't make them a monster.

 

I wouldn't say the caller is positive or brave at all. She sounds consumed with anger and vindictiveness. She spends every day spewing out her hate and insisting that everyone validate her opinions. She requires everyone in her presence to hear her story and respect her pain. That's exactly how my mom terrorized everyone in her life.

 

It's wrong to equate what the caller went through to the worst tragic events anyone has ever gone through. I can respect that she feels betrayed by her exhusband, but many many people experience betrayal in their marriage. What about all the other terrible events people face across the world. Terrorism, starvation, disease, Alzheimer's. The world is full of survivors of horrible abusive relationships. How can Chris raise her pain up to the point of worshipfulness when the ex husband she hates so much is probably in a living hell worse than she ever experienced? It's no secret how horrible life is for incarcerated sex offenders.

 

I think you are projecting your situation onto this one. We don't actually know the details of what this woman's husband did to his daughter. A sentence of 25 years could very well indicate violent rape.

 

Amazing episode by the way. To the person put off by her nervous laughter, I think it's a perfectly normal, valid response to a tragic situation. A few times I thought the laughter almost crossed into crying. I can't even begin to imagine how I would react to something like this, and I don't think it's something that should be judged. It's literally a response created by her brain sensing stress. Would you judge someone with Tourette's? It's not really that different.

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Amazing episode by the way. To the person put off by her nervous laughter, I think it's a perfectly normal, valid response to a tragic situation. A few times I thought the laughter almost crossed into crying. I can't even begin to imagine how I would react to something like this, and I don't think it's something that should be judged. It's literally a response created by her brain sensing stress. Would you judge someone with Tourette's? It's not really that different.

 

I completely agree. You'll notice I very specifically said I do NOT judge her. I said that I personally had difficulty listening to it because of how it affected me to hear the giggling. That doesn't diminish her feelings or how she deals with this trauma. Just because something makes me uncomfortable doesn't mean I don't think it's worthwhile.

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I have a lot of thoughts, but don't feel like getting in a back-and-forth with someone defending all child abuse as fatherly hugs or a teaching lesson (what is this, the #notallabusers argument? GTFO).

 

But quickly, I do agree with Becky above that the world isn't "full of black and white absolutes" and ironically, I think that was the very point I gleaned from this caller (and Chris too). Sometimes someone you trust and love can do something horrible and it's difficult to come to terms with. That's the opposite of black and white to me.

 

Terrific episode and listen, Chris. Thanks, anonymous beautiful caller.

 

(PS. as a lawyer, I'll add that yea, a 25-year sentence definitely does imply something particularly awful.)

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What an infuriating conversation! Right off the bat Chris states he is out of his depth and proceeds to just say 'wow, you are so brave' for an hour, while the caller laughs nervously, clearly pretending that everything is ok when she sounds like she needs to scream her lungs out for a very long time. She is in total denial - she said she was helped by the conversation, does anyone really believe that?

She has told the same story to councillors, family, boyfriend, even her boss?

I hate listening to things lies this where the most obvious questions aren't addressed -

What does she want from all this talking? Would be the first thing I would ask.

Surely the sensible thing would be to make something up about the boy's father being away until he is of an age to understand, it sounded dangerously like she was considering revealing to a five year old the full horror to him, because she believes in honesty? Or is it because she would like to turn him against her father , because that's how it sounded to me. She is looking for someone in all these conversations to give her PERMISSION to cut the link between the boy and her father.

This trust she has, is it admirable? Is it wise to trust everyone? Is this what the 'monster' meant by naive?

I don't know much about psychology but surely if you've been in therapy you realise that 'pacts' are formed between people - she formed one with her monster husband and she forms one here with Chris, a very bland one, the conversation could have ended 10 minutes in, we were gasping for air , Chris's desperation for it to end was painful.

What was the history of the relationship ?

What was his history?

Paedophiles no matter how horrible they are , and they are horrible, are not monsters, they are people ŵith severe problems that cause suffering to others. The horror is that we are people too...

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This was a really good call! I didn't think that there was anyone else out there who was like me in regards to being attracted to dark people or wounded things. I nearly fell off my chair when she started talking about getting too emotionally connected to people. I felt like she was speaking my story. Thanks Chris for these kinds of calls and letting people reveal inner truth.

I have found myself many times trying to reach out to people that are hurting because I felt like I could feel their pain and I wanted to help them. I too got married in my early 20's to someone that I didn't quite understand. I was so caught up in the romance and the highs of life that I failed to be present enough to see him for who he truly was. He turned out to be bi-polar and a narcissist.

I can imagine that this is true for women who tend to be extremely empathetic and trusting. I always want to see the good in people and I feel like there is good in everyone.

I'm happy with my life today but it is because I have been able to see my faults in these types of emotions. I now have to think twice when I feel deeply empathetic with people (especially men) and check my emotions and look at them in a logical manner before following through.

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